Urinalysis is a common part of your prenatal care. In fact from your first visit the doctor will recommend a urine test and this will be continued in future visits. These tests help the doctor assess diabetes, dehydration, kidney infections and preeclampsia or toxemia.
The urine is screened for sugar, ketones, bacterial presence and proteins. So while an excess of sugar in the urine may indicate gestational diabetes, the bacteria in urine is a sign of Urinary Tract Infection.
For the test the doctor may collect a small sample of urine in a small plastic or glass bottle. Then a chemically prepared dipstick in placed in the sample. This will help in checking certain indicators like excess sugar or proteins.
Protein in urine also known as Poteinuria refer to abnormal levels of protein serum in the urine. Normally persistent levels of protein in urine indicate conditions like kidney diseases, diabetes, high blood pressure, leukemia, heart disease or rheumatoid arthritis. Dehydration, overuse of certain drugs, fever and over exposure to cold can also result in the presence of certain amounts of protein in the urine.
In pregnancy, excess protein in the urine can be caused by a kidney disorder. This could be the direct result of an infection in the kidney. However if the protein in the urine is found in the later stages of pregnancy, along with excessively high blood pressure and swelling in the legs, hands and face then you might be suffering from preeclampsia during pregnancy.
Preeclampsia is also known as Pregnancy induced hypertension or toxemia. It usually occurs in the later stages of the pregnancy especially after the 20th week. Women who are carrying multiples or who have a family history of Preeclampsia in pregnancy are at an increased risk of this disease.
While in a normal pregnancy the blood vessels leading to the placenta widen to allow increased supply of blood to the fetus, in case of preeclampsia these blood vessels tend to constrict leading to a number of complications that can harm both the mother and child.
Pregnant women suffering from preeclampsia may be at risk of giving birth to premature babies or having babies with very low birth weight. Look for symptoms such as vomiting, headaches, blurry vision ad pain below the ribs and contact the doctor as soon as possible.
If the protein in urine is not accompanied by the edema or high blood pressure then it could signal a urinary tract infection. A urine sample will help discern the infection and the treatment options in this case.